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Word is Bond: The Legacy of a Lawyer’s Promise

Real talk – if I asked you to name two professions that share commonality, lawyers and rappers probably would not be the first two you’d shout out. But when it comes to the phrase “Word is Bond,” both professions hold this concept in high regard.

In hip-hop culture, “Word is Bond” is a cornerstone principle. It signifies trust, keeping your promises, and maintaining your reputation. From Public Enemy, Biggie, and Tupac, to countless other artists, the phrase embodies the importance of staying true to your word.

But it didn’t start with Flavor Flav – this saying has roots that go far deeper. Lawyers, believe it or not, are likely the originators of the phrase, having a long-standing tradition that embodies this very sentiment.

While rappers might drop “Word is Bond” on a track, lawyers have historically operated under the principle that their word is their bond. According to the New Jersey Appellate Law Blog, Abraham Lincoln (the man, the myth, the legend), early in his legal career, is said to have spit these very bars. In more contemporary times, The Florida Bar states in its Professional Expectations:

“A lawyer’s word is his or her bond.”

Back in the day.

Back in the day, legal agreements weren’t always these ironclad documents we rely on today. A lawyer’s word held significant weight. Think of it as a handshake deal with serious consequences.

So, what does this mean for lawyers today? While contracts and written agreements are crucial, the core principle of a lawyer’s word being their bond still holds true. We’re bound by ethics codes that demand honesty and candor. After all, when you boil it all down, your name, reputation, and, thus, your word is all you have. Breaking your word can erode trust with clients, judges, and colleagues faster than you can say “objection!”

Always remember the power of your word. I do – in the world of law, “a lawyer’s word is their bond” is a powerful promise to uphold. It’s also a good reminder to everyone that, when all is said and done, sometimes all you have is your word.

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